The man, his mind and his body, celebrated in his purest form , stripped of all collectivist obligations that drag him down, he stands in this world, upright and proud, in love with his ability and his mind and with respect to what he does and to all evidence of existence of man' s mind in all possibilities and forms .
But the question Rand asks is - will this respect for oneself and man's refusal to sell his soul bring all the happiness and satisfaction that he deserves to him??
In a world where parasitic moochers like leeches feed on the blood of the able, surviving only because of existence of men who are in all forms above them yet denouncing them for being the very reason for their survival. Discrediting their ability and devaluing their minds, creating a contradiction and a highly unstable world where the very motor and carrier of the world, is insulted and abused for burden it takes up for carrying it..
The protagonist Dagny Taggart runs a railroad, her trains pumping blood into minds of men like Hank Reardon , Ellis Wyatt , Who are the organs of progress and development on which the country and world depends. On the parallel end are people like James Taggart, Oren boyle, Wesly Mooch who's sole purpose is creating leaks in this system of blood supply, sucking on the blood of the able and maintaining the contradiction on which their world depends.
But Rand repeatedly reminds the readers and the characters that contradictions do not exist, you need to check your premises, one of them will be wrong.
And on this premise and its discovery Rand builds the plot of the book, in which every inexplicable event becomes a question - Who is john Galt? In which men start walking away from their lifetime achievements, promising heirs turn into worthless play boys and every ship on the Atlantic is seized by a mysterious pirate, and the nation becomes acutely anaemic with mad clamour and looting for blood with looters richer than ever and the poor even poorer, In this world lack of ability becomes the virtue and need becomes the birthright, and lowest of the low among men are the ones who rise.
In this world one man swears to stop the motor of the world.
Three men start a revolution -a railroad worker, a pirate and a worthless playboy alternatively the inventor of the motor which uses atmospheric pressure as fuel, an aristocrat philosopher and the gifted heir of de Anconia copper .
They build the world, as it should be in the lost city of Atlantis, invisible to naked eye of the common man, hidden under illusions, with treasure of minds living with in it. It is to this city that movers of the world move to, giving up what they were to be in this world what they rightfully can be. Living by the single oath the only pre requisite to enter the valley " I swear by my life and my love for it that I shall never live for the sake of another man and neither ask another man to live for the sake mine "
In this book "the mind" goes on a strike ending centuries of exploitation and looting, the motor stops, the lights go out and the atlas shrugs reminding the world of his importance and his presence beneath it.